OMAR PACHA believes the template has been set at Hull Stingrays in order for them to become a regular at the Elite League play-off final four weekend.
His team’s 3-2 play-off semi-final defeat to league champions Sheffield Steelers at the National Ice Centre in Nottingham will clearly hurt for some time for the 28-year-old Canadian.
It was cruel on the East Yorkshire club, who had more than held their own against the post-season top seeds, who had beaten them in all six of the previous meetings this season.
Pacha, installed as Sylvain Cloutier’s successor by owner Bobby McEwan last summer, has endured plenty of adversity in his first season as a rookie coach, but has shown great passion and commitment in steering the club to the post-season semi-final stages.
They were just 3.8 seconds from taking the Steelers into overtime when Mathieu Roy poked the puck home, leaving them no time to come back.
But while he and the Stingrays management were clearly aggrieved at a couple of pivotal late calls that they felt cost them the chance to extend their play-off run, Pacha is confident further appearances in the final four will happen.
“The last three or four months proves that this team is going upwards,” said Pacha.
“It’s going to be a team that is going to compete and the process is always going to be the same - we’re going to be young, fast and always hard working.”
Pacha felt the holding call which saw him go to the box with just 30 seconds remaining was harsh, the situation being compounded out on the ice for what he felt was a failure by the officials to call Steelers for high sticking during the subsequent powerplay, on which Roy eventually scored the winner.
“It was a tough way to end it, especially with all the circumstances that happened at the end of the game,” added Pacha.
“I didn’t expect that call to be made, especially with everything that was let go in that third period but, even so, if they call that then it’s fine but just make sure you call the high sticks or the hand pass - that would have been fine to get a whistle.”
Pacha was full of praise for his players, who had gone into the game as clear underdogs, and felt the least they deserved was taking the game into overtime - but it wasn’t to be.
“The effort was there from us 100 per cent from us, it was there all game,” he said.
“I thought we played great - we made individual mistakes for sure, but against a good team like Sheffield you are going to make some mistakes because they are such a good team. But, just the way it all ended, I obviously wish it had ended in a different way.
“I am really proud of these guys. I felt they have worked hard all year and I felt that we have faced so much adversity throughout the year.
“Over the last three to four weeks we’ve really believed that we could make it to the final and make something good happen in the play-offs but, unfortunately, it didn’t happen for us.”